Devils Burn Canadiens

Actress Salma Hayek greets Warren Beatty at the premiere of her new film "Ask the Dust" at the Egyptian Theatre on March 2, 2006, in Hollywood, Calif.
GETTY IMAGES/Vince Bucci

Reacquiring Stanley Cup hero Claude Lemieux in a trade minutes before their game with Montreal didn't have the immediate effect the New Jersey Devils wanted.

Instead of being pumped, they were stunned for about 30 minutes and it nearly cost them against the stumbling Canadiens.

However, defenseman Scott Stevens scored on a slap shot with 7:33 to play and the Devils rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat Montreal 3-2 Wednesday night.

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  • "It was like thunder coming out of blue sky," Devils center Bobby Holik said of the trade that sent Brian Rolston to Colorado for Lemieux. "It came out of nowhere, we were stunned."

    Most of the Devils players walked down the hall to see the likable Rolston just minutes before the faceoff.

    "There was so much emotion and then the guys had to suck it up and go out and play," coach Robbie Ftorek said.

    Denis Pederson woke up the Devils by scoring midway through the second period to cut the Canadiens lead in half, and Petr Sykora tied the game early in the third.

    Martin Brodeur had 15 saves, including just two in the final period, in extending his personal winning streak at home to 11 games (8-0-3).

    Trevor Linden and Patrick Poulin scored for Montreal, which has opened the season with only three wins in 13 games.

    "The pressure on the head coach in Montreal is the same as it is everywhere in the league," Canadiens coach Alain Vigneault said. "You have to find ways to win, and that is what we are trying to do, win."

    Stevens' game-winner came after Canadiens goaltender Jose Theodore stopped two consecutive chances by rookie Scott Gomez, the second on a wraparound. The rebound came out to the left circle and Stevens drilled his second goal of the sason past the screened Theodore, who had 30 saves.

    "I was in the right spot and all the guys collapsed and I just had a great shot," Stevens said.

    Sykora tied the game 4:32 into the third, taking a pass from Jason Arnott and putting it into a wide-open right side of the net.

    Despite being outshot 25-15 in the first two periods, Montreal took a 2-1 lead into the third.

    Linden scored his first goal with the Canadiens, deflecting a centering pass by Brian Savage over Brodeur into the top of the net midway through the first period.

    Poulin made it 2-0 at 7:40 of the second period with his third of the season. Turner Stevenson nudged a pass from the right circle to Shayne Corson. He drew Brodeur out of position skating from the right side of the net to left, and centered a pass that Poulin tapped into an empty net.

    "Excuses are for losers, we have to stop making them and start finding ways to win hockey games instead of losing them," Corson said. "We were up 2-0, we were up the whole game and we ended up losing. We need to play a simple game and go back to basics, that's how New Jersey wins."

    Pederson got the Devils back in the game less than two minutes after Poulin's goal, beating Theodore right in front after a giveaway by defenseman Francis Bouillon.

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